CHAMPCAR/CART: Walker Racing tests F3000 driver

INDIANAPOLIS (September 30, 2002) - Walker Racing has already made great strides toward next season with team owner Derrick Walker taking over the assets of Reynard North America midway through the current season, keeping the fabled chassis ...

INDIANAPOLIS (September 30, 2002) - Walker Racing has already made great strides toward next season with team owner Derrick Walker taking over the assets of Reynard North America midway through the current season, keeping the fabled chassis manufacturer solidly alive in the CART FedEx Championship Series.

Now his team is taking more steps toward 2003 and beyond as the current 2002 slate of races winds down. Looking at the man in the race car instead of at the race car itself, the team rolled one of its Toyota/Reynards out to the West Coast last week for a test session at Firebird International Raceway where Brazilian open-wheel driver and International Formula 3000 competitor Mario Haberfeld tested for two days.

The team ran in 105-degree heat for two days with Haberfeld, looking at ways to better the car for this season as well as evaluating the open-wheel driver for a possible entry to the 2003 CART series.

"I thought it was a good test and luckily Toyota was able to let us get it done," Walker Team Manager Rob Edwards said. "We certainly accumulated a lot of laps despite the heat. It was a difficult test for Mario since we didn't have a good baseline for his to compare with but he did a great job. He reminded me of Gil (de Ferran, who drove for Walker Racing from 1997-99) in the early days. He debriefed with the engineers well and he had very good understanding of the car."

Haberfeld was making his first CART test after running the past four seasons in the FIA F3000 series. The 26-year-old enjoyed his best year in the series in 2002, earning five top-five finishes and two podiums with Team Astromega.

"I enjoyed my two days very much," Haberfeld said. "I enjoyed working with the team who were professional and friendly too. The car was fun to drive especially the horsepower! The chassis was responsive and I felt very comfortable with the car. After two days with the car I feel I understand it well enough to be able to push to find the limit."

Edwards relayed that the team was interested in Haberfeld for the 2003 season but also added that Walker was considering a number of possibilities and combinations for coming seasons, but that he hoped to be able to announce something soon.

"We'd like nothing more, since no one has been able to do it yet, to be the first to get our program in place and make an announcement for next year." Edwards said.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Haberfeld